Spider-Man/Deadpool Vol. 1 – Isn’t It Bromantic? by Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness (graphic novel review).

If you want to get another comicbook title on the shelves to make sure you’re getting even more money, then a tip from me is to do a team-up. Get two characters who are selling their individual titles like gangbusters. Then join them together for a series of wacky adventures. Then sit back and watch the money roll in. OK, this might seem rather cynical. The comicbook world has had a number of ‘team-up’ titles which have been rather successful both critically and financially – the Batman/Superman series springs to mind. But you need characters who complement each other well and therein lies the problem with Spider-Man and Deadpool. If you have two heroes who are famous for their wisecracking, just who do you get to play the straight man?

‘Spider-Man/Deadpool Vol. 1 Isn’t It Bromantic’ collects issues 1-5 and 8 of Spider-Man/Deadpool and it kicks off right in the middle of the action as the webslinger and the Merc With A Mouth find themselves in a pitched battle with Hydro-Man. Their relationship is also established right from the get-go. Deadpool is constantly making jokes and hoping Spider-Man will become his best buddy. Spider-Man just wants the annoying regenerating Canadian out of his sight. The dynamic is somewhat funny. Parker’s exasperation at Deadpool leads to many well-written moments though it somewhat shifts the character of Spider-Man we have come to know and love. Even in his current iteration, with Peter Parker now no longer a nerdy student and Daily Bugle photographer and instead the CEO of a high-powered tech company, alá Tony Stark, Spider-Man is still the sarcastic super-hero in a suit. However, put next to Deadpool, he has to be the serious one in the duo. This slight shift in his character tone never feels quite right.

The overall arc of this volume sees Deadpool being asked to assassinate Peter Parker by an unknown employer. Made to believe that Parker is an amoral monster, Deadpool looks set to carry out his plan, never knowing that Parker and Spider-Man are one in the same. The dramatic irony inherent in this set-up undoubtedly holds the attention, especially as the volume explores how Deadpool and Spider-Man become closer to becoming genuine friends, as does finding out the identity of the mysterious villain at the centre of it all. For all the underlying tone of darkness, there are still times in which the silly sides of Deadpool and Spider-Man can be indulged including a rather funny dance off in which they are forced to undertake to appease the currently female version of Thor. But the tone is sometimes a bit uneven with the balance between the dark plot and light moments not always working.

That said, there’s a brilliant deconstruction of ‘comicbook death’, ie where characters die and we know they’ll be brought back soon, as Deadpool uses it as a plot point to discover that someone has been lying to him. It’s a slight case of having your cake and eating it but it’s audaciously clever

Make no mistake, there is plenty of entertainment to be found in ‘Spider-Man/Deadpool Vol. 1. Isn’t It Bromantic?’, but it’s clear that they still need to find a balance between the characters and how they play off each other and it will be interesting to see how the relationship develops over further volumes.

Laurence Boyce

December 2016

(pub: Marvel. 136 page graphic novel softcover. Price: $17.99 (US), £14.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-78519-786-7)

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Laurence Boyce

Laurence Boyce is a film journalist who likes Bond, Batman and Doctor Who (just to prove the things he enjoys things that don't just start with a 'B'). He is also a film programmer for various film festivals in the UK and abroad.

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